Posted in Film

The Sandra Bullock Files #12: The Thing Called Love (1993)

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The Sandra Bullock Files is a series that looks at the films of Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock, all the way from her debut in 1987, to her two major 2018 releases, Ocean’s Eight and Bird Box.

It took Sandra a few years to build some career momentum, but everything finally started going her way around this time. One of Sandra’s lesser-known 1993 titles is The Thing Called Love, starring Samantha Mathis (who would become a best friend of Sandra’s), Dermot Mulroney, Trisha Yearwood, and River Phoenix, in one of his final film roles.

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Directed by Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), the film tells of the turbulent journey of Miranda Presley (Mathis), who develops a friendship with Linda Lue (Sandra) and a relationship with James Wright (Phoenix) while trying to make a name for herself in the music world.

While the star of the film is Mathis, Sandra is in a large part of it, too. She shows up about eleven minutes into the movie, wearing a purple cowgirl outfit and speaking with a Tennessee twang (long before she donned that blonde hair in The Blind Side). She proceeds to sing a song titled “Heaven Knocking On My Door.” How often does Sandra sing in movies? Not often, so this is a special, wonderfully mellow scene.

There are many cute moments of Sandra throughout this unremarkable movie, as well as one of her finest dramatic moments up until that time in her career when she lashes out at Miranda for moving out of their motel. The whole scene is played in one shot as Linda tears through a magazine in the background, her anger slowly building. She then runs up to her friend and screams at her about her actions. It’s a powerhouse of a dramatic scene, the kind that doesn’t appear anywhere else in the film, that shows yet another reason why Sandra suddenly found herself booking more parts at this time.

She unfortunately disappears for the final act, a blasé forty-five minutes that just go on and on — the film is two hours long and feels close to three. Once the focus veers away from Sandra’s character completely, a lot of the fun drains away, and we’re stuck with a main character who is just not interesting enough to sustain the length of a feature film. But Sandra escapes the movie unscathed, having delivered easily her best performance in a motion picture so far in her blossoming career, one that was mere months away from exploding.

Best Scene: Sandra has an emotional meltdown in a barbershop.

Best Line: “And who gets their hair cut by Elvis’ barber, anyway!?!”

Fun Facts

All cast members, including Sandra, performed their own songs.

Sandra co-wrote the song, “Heaven Knocking On My Door.”

While she appeared in many films in 1993, only one would be a breakaway hit. Unfortunately, it wasn’t this one. The Thing Called Love was the most financially unsuccessful film of 1993, earning only $1 million from a budget of $14 million.

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